Updated Wind Energy Development Scenarios in the U.S.: Tools to Understand Potential Wind-Wildlife Interaction

Mass. Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

This webinar was hosted by the National Wind Coordinating Collaborative (NWCC).

As wind energy continues to grow across the landscape, conservationists, land managers, and state and federal agencies seek to understand where there may be emerging or growing exposure to wildlife. Meanwhile, where wind energy may be deployed in the future is contingent upon factors which are not static or certain. There are a myriad of levers that impact where and how much wind may be installed – levers which are movable. Join NREL researchers to learn how these intricate considerations are integrated into modeling and analysis to estimate the possible future of wind energy in the United States, and the relationship this has with wildlife. Presenters include:

  • Presenters: Anthony Lopez and Bethany Straw, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)
  • Presenter: John Lloyd, American Wind Wildlife Institute (AWWI)


Additional Q&A from the NREL presentation:

Q: On slide 22, if 232 GW is 20% of total capacity on the left scenario, how is 633 GW only 40% of the total capacity on the right scenario?

A: This particular high wind scenario was created using both low wind and low PV costs. Because there was significant additional deployment of PV, which has a low capacity factor, the capacity fraction of wind does not scale directly with capacity. Said another way, the total capacity in the high wind scenario grew faster than the wind capacity.

Q: Can you expand on the inverse relationship between solar and wind – what are the drivers?

A: The drivers of this particular illustrative case are simple – if we only limit the siting of wind (and not PV), ReEDS “sees” more opportunity to deploy PV, and does so.

Q: Do these models account for grid improvements (e.g., smart grid)?

A: ReEDS is a least-cost optimization model. Insofar as grid improvements allow the grid to function more cleanly in a least-cost manner, then those improvements are implicitly captured. However, ReEDS does not assume specific grid improvements.

Q: Can you provide more information about how you developed the direct land use estimates on slide 3?

A: Direct land use estimates (2-5%) for wind power plants were obtained from Denholm, P., Hand, M., Jackson, M. & Ong, S. Land Use Requirements of Modern Wind Power Plants in the United States. (2009) doi:10.2172/964608.

The National Wind Coordinating Collaborative (NWCC), formed in 1994 and retired in 2020, was initiated and funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL); AWWI facilitated the NWCC from 2012 until 2020. Learn more.